The US Department of Defence shared a video showing a Navy drone ship launching a deadly missile that can shoot down enemy ballistic and hypersonic missiles.
The US Navy’s unmanned surface vessel (USV) is part of its ‘Ghost Fleet Overload’ program. The SM-6 missile was fired using the Navy’s experimental launcher, the ‘Ranger’. This program was aimed at determining the capabilities of unmanned warships and also to understand the way they operate.
The Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office’s (SCO) Ghost Fleet Overlord program was launched in 2017.
“The program aims to rapidly field autonomous surface vessels in order to better expand the reach of manned vessels”, according to the Pentagon. The project aims to develop ships that will not just travel from point A to point B on their own, but also follow the rules of the sea and avoid other ships autonomously.
The announcement about the two new vessels comes amid many other recent developments signaling the Navy’s increased emphasis on unmanned vessels, The War Zone had previously reported.
As seen in the video, the Ranger tested a containerized four-pack SM-6 launcher. The Standard Missile-6 (SM-6), also known as RIM-174, is a ship-launched anti-air and anti-surface interceptor missile developed by Raytheon Company.
The SM-6 is part of Raytheon’s STANDARD missile family, which includes SM-1, SM-2 and SM-3. The SM-6 is the first missile of its kind, with anti-air, anti-surface, and sea-based terminal defense capabilities, which enable it to intercept ballistic and cruise missiles. The first SM-6 missile was deployed by the US Navy in December 2013.
The missile showed its ability to protect ships from the threats of ballistic missiles in their final seconds of flight in 2015. In 2016, the SM-6 missile successfully hit its first surface target, strengthening the US Navy’s concept of dispersed lethality, the ability to attack from any ship or position.
The SM-6 is capable of being deployed aboard 60 surface ships in the fleet and the company has already supplied more than 500 missiles to the US Navy. With upgraded software, the missile successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target in its final phase of flight in 2017.
See the game-changing, cross-domain, cross-service concepts the Strategic Capabilities Office and @USNavy are rapidly developing: an SM-6 launched from a modular launcher off of USV Ranger. Such innovation drives the future of joint capabilities. #DoDInnovates pic.twitter.com/yCG57lFcNW
— Department of Defense 🇺🇸 (@DeptofDefense) September 3, 2021
According to reports, the US Army is also planning to use the SM-6 missile for its land-based missions for attacking its targets. Apart from this, the missile can be used for intercepting aerial, hypersonic, and ballistic missile threats.
The missile can also be used for its anti-ship capabilities. As noted by The War Zone, moving to highly distributed and platform-diversified combat strategies is not only advantageous but also crucial for the US Navy.
This new launcher, and the further leveraging of the SM-6, as well as distributing these capabilities across what will be the truly massive battlefields of the future, are absolutely key components in preparing for this new reality in modern warfare, The War Zone said in its report.
- Written by Kashish Tandon/EurAsian Times Desk
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